Leaders Focus:

  • Meet core needs of staff
  • Ensure staff wellbeing
  • Sustain motivation
  • Help staff deal with rapidly changing situations


  • Provide clear structures
  • Co-ordinate and direct collaboratively, communicate directly and honestly.
  • Provide clear guidance and be true to your word
  • Over directing and micro controlling alienates staff
  • Draw on available resources

Available resources:

  • Collective intelligence made up of experience and knowledge of staff
  • Staff are skilled and have wisdom
  • Unleash collective intelligence of staff through compassionate leadership
  • Compassionate leadership requires compassionate intention

What is Compassionate Leadership?

  • Pay full attention to all staff
  • Listen to them; Be fully present when you are with them
  • Try to understand what they are going through, cultivate authentic curiosity
  • Don’t impose your understanding/views
  • Ask the question “How can I help you”
  • Remember we are all human and connected in our shared vulnerability– “inter-connection”
  • Be aware of ABC of human needs at work
  • A - Autonomy and Control for staff
    o Staff must have a voice about decisions that affect delivery of care
    o Listen to staff everyday
    o Take staff views and experiences into account
    o Staff need regular short breaks and access to food and drinks
    o Leaders provide access to places for short rest
    o Leaders provide access for staff to meet basic biological needs
  • B - Belonging
    o We cope by feeling cared for, supported, connected to others
    o Leaders facilitate supportive environment – open communication, transparency in decisions
    o Leaders show gratitude for what their staff give
    o Leaders honour the skills and wisdom of their staff
    o Leaders clarify roles and ensure everyone knows what each other’s roles is
  • C - Competence
    o Leaders make sure workloads are manageable
    o Leaders facilitate short team reviews
    o Leaders facilitate learning within organisation/team
    o Leaders share learning from national sources and from around the world
    o Leaders facilitate teams developing responses
    o Short team reviews allow teams to rest together experiencing inter-connection

*Bailey, S & West, M. The Kings Fund